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Speaker Pelosi Wasn’t Informed. So What?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Saturday was a great day for America. U.S. Special Forces killed one of the most vile human beings on the planet, terrorist leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The leader of ISIS was dead. The mass murdering terrorist was chased down a tunnel by dogs and blew himself up. But true justice being dealt out was not enough for Democrats in Washington. Nancy Pelosi is upset, again. This time, the Speaker of the House is upset because she was not informed of the raid to kill al-Baghdadi ahead of time. Well, President Trump was right not to tell her, or any of the Gang of Eight, ahead of time.

The Gang of Eight, a collection of top Congressional leaders, are typically briefed ahead of such significant missions. But we are not living in normal, typical times. We are living in a time when certain Congressional leaders would seemingly like the president to be open with them, all the while trying to destroy his presidency. Military operations are not a game. National security is not a game. True, there is a tradition of politics stopping at the water’s edge, but is the fate of an essential military operation, or the lives of the servicemen involved, worth risking in a time when Congressional leaking makes the hole in the Titanic look like a contact lens? Of course not.

Were President Trump to brief the Gang of Eight prior to the raid, he would have, necessarily, given essential details to not only Speaker Pelosi but also Adam Schiff. This is the same Adam Schiff who is in charge of the impeachment inquiry into the president himself. The impeachment inquiry that selectively leaks any information, absent context or clarity, that might be harmful to the president. This is the same Adam Schiff that read from the House chamber a completely fabricated account of Trump’s now famous Ukrainian phone call. Yet we are expected to believe that the president should give him top-secret briefings in good faith.

When high-value military operations are a success, the president invariably gets a boost. See for example George W. Bush following the capture of Saddam Hussein or Barack Obama following the Bin Laden killing. Yet one need look no further than Jimmy Carter’s approval implosion following the 1979 failed raid in Iran to understand why, some, may be reticent to share information with hostile members of the government. 

This is not to say that political posturing should in any way be a consideration in military operations. Far from it. Yet when certain members of one’s own government appear to be willing to stop at nothing to destroy a presidency, can, or should, the president take such risks with American military lives and operational success? It was less than two weeks ago that Speaker Pelosi had a meltdown and stormed out of the White House due, in large part, to her disagreements over President Trump’s policies in the Middle East, just where this mission was due to take place.

It is true that Russia was informed that U.S. forces would be undertaking an operation yet that was an operational necessity. U.S. helicopters were flying over Russian controlled territory. Communication between forces becomes essential at that point. Non-specific Russian notification brought operational security to the mission. What would a Pelosi-Schiff notification bring to the table? The Joint Chiefs are probably better positioned to advise the president on such a matter.

If one were to assume for a moment that, had the president briefed the Gang of Eight, no leaks would have occurred, still, what would have been the gain? In no way would such a briefing benefit the mission. And how was the mission in any way compromised by the lack of such a briefing? Again, in no way at all. Damage to fragile egos aside, President Trump exercising his lawful discretion not to brief Congressional Democrats is in no way relevant in the final analysis of Saturday’s successful mission.

At the end of the day, ISIS leader al-Baghdadi is dead. If certain Congressional leaders’ feelings are hurt by some perceived snub, so be it. Failing to brief the Gang of Eight, at worst, deprived certain politicians of a chance at political posturing. At best, it ensured mission success and the safety of dozens of U.S. Servicemen. Saturday was still a great day for America.

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